Cultivating a proper sense of commitment

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

ESPECIALLY these days when there are so many developments that can confuse us and lead us to have a superficial if not erroneous and dangerous sense of commitment, we need to clarify the real meaning of commitment, and why we need it, where its real source is, etc.

If we take our life seriously, that is, if we know what the real purpose of our life is, what duties and responsibilities we have, then we cannot help but realize that we have to assume certain commitments. Yes, commitments in our life are actually unavoidable. We just have to have them one way or another.

We are reminded of the importance of commitment in our life when in the gospel Christ himself said to those whom he asked to follow him that “no one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Lk 9,62)

That’s because those whom he asked to follow him made some conditions. One said, I will follow you wherever you go, “but let me go first and bury my father.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.” (cfr. Lk 9,57-61)

But we have to understand that commitments, if properly understood, are actually a genuine manifestation of freedom and love. They are never constraints and obstacles to our freedom and our loving. Any understanding of commitments that would somehow equate them with constraints and obstacles to our freedom and loving would simply be wrong.

Yes, far from straitjacketing or stereotyping us, entering into a commitment would simply show that we are so driven with the true love of God and a deep sense of freedom that we are willing to take on whatever consequences our commitment would make on us.

We are human with a soul that is spiritual but with a body that is material. While our spiritual self orients us to the infinite and to an endless range of possibilities, our material self puts us under so many conditions and specifications. In a sense, a commitment concretizes the spiritual in us.

We have to learn how to blend these two fundamental qualities of our being, because we can neither be purely spiritual nor purely material. We have to be both. Our spiritual self needs to be materialized, while our material self needs to be spiritualized.

And entering into a commitment simply puts the spiritual and infinity-oriented character of our love and freedom into the material conditions and specifications of our life. A commitment is our love and freedom expressed in a concrete and specific way. It makes our love and freedom avoid being fuzzy. Rather, it makes them clear.

Obviously, the sense of commitment can only take place when we are so in love with God as to identify ourselves with him whose sense of commitment toward us knows no limits.

Of course, when we have a good sense of commitment, then we cannot help but be faithful to whatever we commit ourselves into. Commitment and fidelity are inseparable. And their requirements are precisely the strong manifestations of love and freedom. Thus, when we miss this equation, we would easily fall victim to the blind forces of the flesh and world, if not of the evil ways of the demons.